Sunday, July 31, 2011

Photo: The Death Mask of Ignatius

Poem: The Nobodies

We are not, but could be.
We don't speak languages, but dialects.
We don't have religions, but superstitions.
We don't create art, but handicrafts.
We don't have culture, but folklore.
We are not human beings, but human resources.
We do not have faces, but arms.
We do not have names, but numbers.
We do not appear in the history of the world,
     but in the police blotter of the local papers.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullets that kill them.

Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Photo: Ignatius of Loyola

Const.: GC 34, Decree 4: “Our Mission and Culture”, par. 27.7


We need to listen carefully when people say that the Gospel does not speak to them, and begin to understand the cultural experience behind this statement. Does what we say, and what we do, correspond to the real and urgent needs of the people around us in their relationship to God and to others? If the answer is negative, then perhaps we are not fully engaged in the lives of the people we serve.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Photo: "The Three Companions of Jesus" by George Drance

Poem: The Seven Social Sins

Politics without principle
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality
Pleasure without conscience
Education without character
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spirituality: Henri Nouwen on Death

There is such a thing as a good death. We ourselves are responsible for the way we die. We have to choose between clinging to life in such a way that death becomes nothing but a failure, or letting go of life in freedom so that we can be given to others as a source of hope.... The real question before our death, then, is not, how much can I still accomplish, or how much influence can I still exert? but, how can I live so that I can continue to be fruitful when I am no longer here among my family and friends? That question shifts our attention from doing to being. Our doing brings success, but our being bears fruit.

Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved and our Greatest Gift

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Photo: Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene
Faithful disciple of Christ's ministry;
Silent witness of Christ's Passion;
Messenger of Christ's Resurrection'
Model of fidelity and prayerful contemplation;
pray for me.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 31, 2011
Isaiah 55:1-3; Psalm 145; Romans 8:35, 37-39; Matthew 14:13-21

          The compassion of Jesus leads to healing. For the past three weeks, Jesus has been teaching what the kingdom of heaven is like. Crowds have assembled to hear his words. Some commentators speculate that over ten percent of Israel came to hear him speak. The section starts out by telling us that Jesus withdrew to pray because he heard of the tragic death of John the Baptist. Though we read these words often, it is good for us to consider the real grief that Jesus experienced. Grief is an underestimated emotion and it is comforting to reflect upon the hurt Jesus felt at the death of his colleague and friend.
          The crowds followed him because they were eager to be with him. As his heart was wounded because of his personal loss, he was moved to act out of his compassion. He cured the sick when he disembarked. He recognized that many people had needs that kept them from living fully.

          Jesus acts as the good shepherd who feeds and specially cares for his own people. While doing so, he trains his disciples to have self-confidence, to show initiative, and to be leaders - just as he is doing. This first feeding narrative is strictly to the people of Israel; later on the feeding narrative is meant to include the Gentiles as well. Because of the sheer size of the population experiencing this miracle, it is meant to show that it has a social character as well as the miracle over nature. This episode is meant to recall the events in Exodus and Numbers when God gave the Israelites manna in the desert each day. The Eucharist is meant to anticipate the messianic banquet in the kingdom. Matthew, using Jewish apocalyptic imagery, brings to mind the reconstituted Israel with its Twelve Tribes represented by his Twelve Apostles. It helps us to consider the value of our leftovers.
           In a season when we think of good food and rich drink, it is easy to soak in the words of Isaiah who calls us into a feast where we can eat and drink to our hearts and belly's delight. This feast is one without cost; everyone is invited. It is the banquet offered by God when we follow his commands and live an upright life. All we have to do is listen to the words of God, which are a feast in themselves.

          Jesus also invites the crowds into a rich meal through a blessing. Generosity, open giving, and true community ensures that there will be plenty of food for all present and even for those who are absent. Sadly, many people find it difficult to be generous with open giving to their communities of faith today. Many want to do what is good and right for the needy among us and we value our financial and emotional care for others and yet many want to restrict their gifts in order to know that the money will be used for such purposes. We want to add conditions to our giving because we are frustrated when our voices are not heard or that we are not shown respect. Money, or withholding money, talks when all else fails. It shows something is not right in our institutional churches and the kingdom remains elusive when authority is not rightly used. We still year for good shepherds. We yearn for the day when the banquets of Isaiah and Jesus can come true. I still believe in miracles.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Exodus, Moses hears the cries of the people who remember the good old days in Egypt when they had plenty of food instead of nutritious by hardly-exciting manna each day. Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses against the marriage he entered with a Cushite woman. The Lord supports Moses; for her sins, Miriam becomes a snow-white leper. In Numbers, Moses sends men into Canaan to reconnoiter the land. They bring back news of a land flowing with milk and honey, but also news that the occupants are strong and fierce. The people shriek at the Lord who punishes them, one for each year, an era that last 40 years. While in exile at Meribah, Miriam dies and the people grumble. Moses strikes a rock with his staff and water flows copiously from a rock. Moses exhorts the people to keep the statutes and commandments of the Lord so they and their children may prosper and have long life on the land they are to occupy.
Gospel: Jesus, after his miraculous feeding of the people of Israel, goes off to pray. He meets up with his disciples by walking on water to reach them in the boat. He calls them to deeper trust in him by asking Peter to walk on the water to reach him. Pharisees dispute the custom of Jesus to eat without first washing his hands in violation of the law. He replies that impurity comes from without rather than from the outside. He then meets the Canaanite woman whose daughter is tormented by a demon. The faith of Jesus is expanded to include those outside of Israel as capable of salvation. After spending a great deal of time with his disciples he asks, "Who do you say I am." Peter confesses, "You are the Christ of God." For this answer, Jesus tells Peter he will build his church upon his faith. The person who is to be a disciple is to deny himself and follow Jesus radically.

Saints of the Week
Monday: Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor(1696-1787), founded a band of mission priests that became the Redemptorists. He wrote a book called "Moral Theology" that linked legal aspects with kindness and compassion for others. He became known for his responsive and thoughtful way of dealing with confessions.

Tuesday: Peter Faber, S.J., priest and founder (1506-1546), was one of the original companions of the Society of Jesus. He was a French theologian and the first Jesuit priest and was the presider over the first vows of the lay companions. He became known for directing the Spiritual Exercises very well. He was called to the Council of Trent but died as the participants were gathering.
Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop (d. 371), was ordained bishop after becoming a lector. He attended a council in Milan where he opposed the Arians. The emperor exiled him to Palestine because he contradicted secular influences. He returned to his diocese where the emperor died.

Peter Julian Eymard, priest (1811-1868) left the Oblates when he became ill. When his father died, he became a priest and soon transferred into the Marists but left them to found the Blessed Sacrament Fathers to promote the significance of the Eucharist.
Wednesday: John Vianney, priest (1786-1859) became the parish priest in Ars-en-Dombes where he spent the rest of his life preaching and hearing confessions. Hundreds of visitors and pilgrims visited him daily. He would hear confessions 12-16 hours per day.

Friday: Dedication of the Basilica of Mary Major in Rome is celebrated because it is the largest and oldest of the churches in honor of Mary. The veneration began in 435 when the church was repaired after the Council of Ephesus in 431 when Mary was proclaimed the Mother of God. This is the church where Ignatius of Loyola said his first Mass and where Francis of Assisi assembled the first crèche.
Saturday: The Transfiguration of the Lord is an historical event captured by the Gospels when Jesus is singled out as God's Son - ranking higher than Moses or Elijah. In front of his disciples, Jesus becomes transfigured, thus revealing his true nature. Ironically, the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb occurred at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jul 31, 1556. The death in Rome of Ignatius Loyola.
·         Aug 1, 1938. The Jesuits of the Middle United States, by Gilbert Garrigan was copyrighted. This monumental three-volume work followed the history of the Jesuits in the Midwest from the early 1820s to the 1930s.
·         Aug 2, 1981. The death of Gerald Kelly, moral theologian and author of Modern Youth and Chastity.
·         Aug 3, 1553. Queen Mary Tudor made her solemn entrance into London. As she passed St Paul's School, an address was delivered by Edmund Campion, then a boy of thirteen.
·         Aug 4, 1871. King Victor Emmanuel signed the decree that sanctioned the seizure of all of the properties belonging to the Roman College and to S. Andrea.
·         Aug 5, 1762. The Parliament at Paris condemned the Society's Institute as opposed to natural law. It confiscated all Jesuit property and forbade the Jesuit habit and community life.
·         Aug 6, 1552. The death of Claude Jay, a French priest who was one of Ignatius' original companions at the University of Paris.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prayer: Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Prayer is the highest achievement of which the human person is capable.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Retreat Homily for the Feast of St. James

Often in Scripture, we encounter someone who asks Jesus for what he or she wants. In this case, it is the wife of Zebedee, mother of James and John, a good Jewish mother, who goes to Jesus to ask for a wish. I am delighted because I am always saying to my retreatants, "Ask Jesus for what you want. He wants to give it to you. Just plainly ask!" Ignatius says that God is always acting through our desires so it is best to speak them to Jesus. I enjoy knowing that the men who are the pillars of our faith (our stalwart Apostles) sent their mother to do their work for them. Somehow this seems very real. Mothers have a way of getting the very best for their children.

          For any number of reasons, we don't ask for what we want and desire. We think of desire as a bad thing, partially because it represents sensuality or sexuality. We are taught that our desires are bad or selfish, like the old Jesuit maxim, "Go get what you want before all the selfish people take it." We ought not to want something for ourselves. We are told to ask for some good for another person instead. And. And. And. We dare not ask God something for ourselves even though God commands us many times in scripture to do so. We are taught early on not to give voice to our desires.

          In today's Gospel, James and John want the privileged honor of sitting next to Jesus when he comes into the fullness of his kingdom. Their mother asks for it, and Jesus is astonished at the lack of thought given to their request. He asks, "Can you drink from the cup - of suffering?" They answer eagerly, maybe impetuously, "We can." Who in their right mind would make such a request? The cross is not something to be taken lightly. We are to be free to say 'yes' to approach the cross. Some rightly say 'no' or 'not yet' because they know what they don't want; if we say 'yes,' we are to be aware of the pain and suffering we will face as we gaze upon the awful sorrow of the cross of Jesus.

          As we hear from Jesus, one thing is clear: the cross looms on the horizon - whether we desire it or not. It is not something we can escape or avoid. We will deal with it at some point in life. The question that arises is: What is our disposition and attitude by which we approach the cross? "How" is more important that "what."

          I have learned to be real in my prayer. I have learned that it is important for me to express my unfiltered desires and feelings to God in the rawest way I can do it. I have learned to see that my anger is good. It is very healthy to find ways to express it well so I know I am heard. I have shouted at God with tremendous anger. I have been so angry with God I would not even talk to him for stretches of time and I derided God for his lack of power and his lack of concern. I have poured out my heart far from the kindest of ways because I wanted to let God know of my supreme frustration and my utter doubt in God's care of me and my loved ones. How could God treat me this way if God is all loving and all powerful and all just. I let him have it good. I felt better.
 
         I watched my sister die an excruciating death. She was born with mental retardation and had a difficult life that fundamentally shaped the dynamics of our family. We cared for her as best we knew how. Early in my life I got so angry with God for allowing this dreadful condition to inhabit a sweet little girl. Poor girl. As a young boy, I recall screaming at God for making her a person with retardation. At age six, I recall steaming in frustration that God chose this and allowed this to happen. I pleaded with God to give me her condition so my innocent sister could be set free. I wanted her to live well. Her illness in life was undeserved.

          I was sympathetic and yet frustrated with my parents because they did not protest enough to the doctors as my sister was still in the womb. I wished they could have spoken for their own needs and desires more vehemently. My hemorrhaging mother during her last month of pregnancy was told to go home because she was in false labor. My parents obediently followed the doctor's professional advice though they knew better. All the while, the umbilical cord wrapped around my sister's neck depriving her of needed oxygen.  

          At the end of her 43 years of life she stayed at home amidst seven long years of pain and suffering - the worst I've ever seen. I came close to cursing Jesus for he had only been on the cross for three hours; my sister's suffering was much more awful. Wheelchair bound and constricted in a physical prison, a tube inserted to feed her and a tube to catch her waste, she was stung with pain. We would hold her in our arms each day and look into her catatonic eyes wondering if she knew we were there. How we wished she could speak and tell us how she felt. She cried cry herself to sleep and immediately awoke from her chronic, ceaseless pain. Sleep could not soften her fatigue. Hospitals sent her back to us because her pain was too unbearable for nurses and other patients to hear. It caused everyone discomfort. Even loving care-givers did not want to hear her moans of pain. We fear suffering.Our fear and psychic pain would arise and we tried to reach her to let her know we were there for her, and we knew we were unable to help her. We were inexhaustibly powerless. We could provide no relief. We too were stripped of any choice - utterly without any control or power.

          After further pouring out my groaning and moaning to God while caressing my sister's face, it was then that I could penetrate deeply into my sister's blank, catatonic eyes. She could not fully see me back but I had to continue to look. I wanted to find her, to have her recognize me, to stand by her, and I could not give up. I gazed into the dark infinity through her eyes. Exhausted, despairing, and hopeless, I was drawn in to see the sad, sorrowful eyes of Jesus looking back at me. He was there on the cross, weeping, weeping deeply for my sister, that I could finally come to a place of stillness and silence. I gazed upon him on the cross as he beheld my sister on hers. He was with her in her suffering and with me in mine. He writhed in pain because we were in pain as life slipped out of his body. He was so sad for us and he could not get off the cross because he needed to be there for us.

          My sister's pain continued a few more months before she died. I don't know how my mother made it through a single day, but she was lovingly faithful to her daughter. I solidly knew that Jesus was with my sister and she seemed consoled by that. It was only by looking deeply into that dark pit of suffering that Jesus was able to gently reach me and show me his heart. At this place, the desires of my heart met his - and he was gracious.

          I encountered a gentle God - a God who cannot act violently, especially with earthen vessels. Jesus gives us the greatest gift he can - by being in vulnerable solidarity with his people as he hangs on the cross, with those who hang on the cross. If we look deeply into our suffering, we will undoubtedly find the broken, disabled, disfigured Christ, imprisoned on his Cross, and he will gently be present to us. No greater gift exists.

                Because of this, says St. Paul, we are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in us. Death is at work in us; and life too. Therefore, we take up the cup of suffering; the same cup that is the cup of life. Because we believe, we can speak of the one who raised the Lord Jesus because it is the same one who will raise us also with Jesus and place us in his presence, like he did with my sister. It is a place where we most want to be.

Photo: Ignatius' vision at La Storta

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

I would advise those who practice prayer, especially at first, to cultivate the friendship and company of others who are working in the same way. This is a most important thing, because we can help one another by our prayers, and all the more so because it may bring us even greater benefits.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Prayer: Catherine of Siena

O Mary, may you be proclaimed blessed among women for endless ages, for today you have shared with us your flour. Today the Godhead is joined and kneaded into one dough with our humanity – so securely that his union could never be broken.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spirituality: Portraits of Faith


Some who claim to lack faith might welcome the prospect of a God who disturbs our complacency, only to propose a better and more intimate love. They may feel they can deal with a God committed to the human enterprise to the end, in good times and bad, but not a moralist God or a God invoked only to solve problems. Whether such a God exists and may prove to be a reliable conversation partner remain the crucial questions, of course. But willingness to imagine a God that one might be prepared to consider is an exercise in honesty.

In the end, each of us must decide whether our own life story is more truly narrated with God included as a major stakeholder and interlocutor, or not. No one should be misled into believing that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures offer uniformly attractive or reassuring evidence in favor of faith. For believers as well as unbelievers, some episodes remain life-long aggravations. Yet, in the end, believers are not sure they want to see them removed. Problematic stories are valuable in dramatizing aspects of dealing with God that it is best to know about.

Adrian Lyons, S.J. from Imagine Believing

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prayer: Aelred of Rievaulx

Charity may be a very short word, but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up one's entire relation to God and to one's neighbor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 24 2011
1 Kings 3;5, 7-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

For the last two weeks, Jesus has been telling parables about the kingdom of heaven in the heart of Matthew's Gospel. This week, Jesus tells three quick ones about  eager disciples' readiness to give fully to the kingdom. The first parable is of a person who finds a treasure buried in a field and then goes to buy the whole field; the second one is of the merchant who finds a pearl of great price and sells all that he has to buy it; and the third is of a fisherman with a dragnet who sorts out the good from the bad. In each of these, the main characters are relentless in their search for the prize, that is, the kingdom of heaven.
The action of the characters is the focus of the story. The hunter, the merchant, and fisherman encounter challenges along the way and they find clever ways to obtain what they seek. Their entire craft becomes dedicated to the pursuit of their treasure and they do it with great joy and enthusiasm. Jesus is affirming the wholehearted devotion to discipleship in these parables. A total 'yes' response is necessary for discipleship; partial acceptance of the words of Jesus doesn't make one a true disciple.

Half measures will not do for the kingdom of God. The kingdom is such a priceless treasure that a wise person would gladly give all for the chance to seize it. It is an opportunity of a lifetime and joy is the characteristic that shows one's good fortune. Patient tolerance is a result of joy. To see this chance in life, one must understand the words of Jesus to be a good disciple. Each of the characters in these short segments, including the Christian scribes, are ready to interpret the words of Jesus correctly. A Christian, therefore, must seek the wisdom that comes from belief in Jesus and an enlightened interpretation of scripture.
Solomon's wisdom from the first reading is paired with the disciples' understanding. In a dream, the Lord said to Solomon, "ask something of me and I will give it to you," to which he replied, "Give me an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong." This request warmed the heart of God who readily granted it and Solomon was rewarded with visitors from far and near that came to seek his advice.

We, too, seek an understanding heart with wisdom to choose rightly in a confusing world. Interpreting scripture in light of our cultural contexts can be rather daunting. New cultural assumptions often are not covered in scripture and we are left to interpret in the spirit of our faith's teachings. It doesn't give us the clarity we seek. The wisdom of an understanding heart goes a long way in helping us making the best informed choices we can. We want to see these characteristics in our church leaders. We want to know that they have pastoral concern for the struggles of their people. When they show warm care and compassion, patient tolerance, and an understanding of the plight of many, their wisdom will earn them respect from the faithful ones. We will strive together to eagerly seek the kingdom of heaven in our midst and we will celebrate in joy. We are better off doing it together and we have to be patient with those who are not yet able to demonstrate the priceless value of the kingdom.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Exodus, Moses would go to the meeting tent at the edge of camp to meet with the Lord face-to-face. Once he remained 40-days and 40-nights without eating as he wrote down the ten commandments given by the Lord. When we returned to the people, the skin of his face became radiant. The people held Moses in great reverence. Moses set up the Dwelling Tent for the Lord. When the Lord occupied the tent, the people would stay where they were; when the cloud lifted, the people would move forward. Moses announced the festivals to be kept in honor of the Lord:  Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, the Sabbath, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Booths. All are to gather and listen to the story of the Lord. Every seven years, the people shall hold a jubilee year.

Gospel: Jesus explains the parable of the weeds in the field to his disciples: the Son of Man sows the good seed, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are children of the Evil One and the enemy who sows them is the devil. Angels are the harvesters at the end of the age. Jesus then says the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in  a field. It is so valuable that a person who discovers it buys the entire field because of its personal great value. The kingdom is also like a dragnet thrown into the sea that collects fish of every kind. Jesus finished his parables and went away from the people. The people came to tell Jesus that Herod arrested John the Baptist because his daughter requested his head on a platter to fulfill the evil desires of her mother. Sadly, Herod agreed and John was executed.
Saints of the Week

Monday: James, Apostle (1st century), is the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. As fishermen, they left their trade to follow Jesus. They occupied the inner circle as friends of Jesus. James is the patron of Spain as a shrine is dedicated to him at Santiago de Compostela. He is the patron of pilgrims as many walk the Camino en route to this popular pilgrim site.
Wednesday: Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents (1st century) are names attributed to the grandparents of Jesus through the Protogospel of James. These names appeared in the Christian tradition though we don't know anything with certitude about their lives. Devotion of Anne began in Constantinople in the 6th century while Joachim gained acclaim in the West in the 16th century. He was revered in the Eastern churches since the earliest times.

Friday: Martha (1st century), is the sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany near Jerusalem. Martha is considered the busy, activity-attentive sister while Mary is more contemplative. Martha is known for her hospitality and fidelity. She proclaimed her belief that Jesus was the Christ when he appeared after Lazarus had died.
Saturday: Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor (406-450), was the archbishop of Ravenna, Italy in the 5th century when the faithful became lax and adopted pagan practices. He revived the faith through his preaching. He was titled Chrysologus because of his 'golden words.'

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jul 24, 1805. In Maryland, Fr. Robert Molyneux was appointed the first superior by Father General Gruber.
·         Jul 25, 1581. In the house of the Earl of Leicester in London, an interview occurred between Queen Elizabeth and Edmund Campion. The Queen could scarcely have recognized the worn and broken person before her as the same brilliant scholar who had addressed here at Oxford 15 years before.
·         Jul 26, 1872. At Rome, the greater part of the Professed House of the Gesu was seized and appropriated by the Piedmontese government.
·         Jul 27, 1609. Pope Paul V beatifies Ignatius.
·         Jul 28, 1564. In a consistory held before twenty-four Cardinals, Pope Paul IV announced his intention of entrusting the Roman Seminary to the Society.
·         Jul 29, 1865. The death in Cincinnati, Ohio of Fr. Peter Arnoudt, a Belgian. He was the author of The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
·         Jul 30, 1556. As he lay near death, Ignatius asked Juan de Polanco to go and obtain for him the blessing of the pope.
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Retreat Homily for Matthew 12:46-50

Matthew redefines family in this Gospel passage. In this family household, there can only be one father - the holy Father - that is, God our Creator and whoever calls upon the name of the Lord is welcomed as mother, brother or sister. This family has a universal call to everyone - despite his or her condition. Hospitality is a key virtue of the kingdom.

Matthew cleans up Mark's brutally truthful language. The brothers of Jesus and his mom come to collect him to bring him home. His preaching and his claim to be the special envoy of God are bringing confusion and unwanted shame to the family and they are embarrassed because he is 'out of his mind.' His family is not an unconcerned bystander to whom a scriptural lesson must be taught. They are angry with him and will give him a verbal whipping when they get him home and bring him to the family psychiatrist who will scold him and make him conform.

This is what families do. Family secrets are not to be made public - under any circumstances. Jesus stands there, in front of the crowds, and calmly stretches out his hand towards his disciples. He declares that he belongs to a new family. His family of origin can choose to be a part of it by doing the will of God or not. Tension within that household and village must have been thick. I bet some people are saying of you, "You are out of your mind" for making this 30-day retreat.

Members of our family of origin do love us. They also give us a lifetime of prayer material as we deal with the cards we have been given. Much of the chaos we carry with us is learned during our formative years. We are prone to respond in unhealthy ways when these experiences are painful. Sometimes our external circumstances leave us wanting: we dislike our bodies; we are not pretty, smart, or strong enough, or straight; we are adopted or a mistake; we have an emotionally distant father or an alcoholic mother; or we weren't born into the right social class. We repress memories as if something terrible did not happen; we deceive ourselves into thinking we are not wanted or cared for; our self-esteem is shot; we have been threatened, harmed, and transgressed unjustly by others; the list can go on, but so can our recurring, ineffective, coping cycles that destroy our well-being and happiness.

Somewhere along the way, our sins and the sins done to us have undone us. We are paralyzed and demoralized and we keep our secrets zipped up so tightly that we are not even sure of their truthfulness. We are as sick as our secrets. In fact, we won't let anyone in. We push back; we keep others at bay; we close down the deepest parts of ourselves so others don't dislike us; our fears get engaged and we fight or flee. We fail to see the kindness and mercy of someone who is trying to be our helpful friend.

We find ourselves unable to reliably go to our self for information about the world. We can't trust ourselves and we become separated from our real self. We are so accustomed to keeping others at bay, we don't even let Christ see our most vulnerable parts. This is where we sin. We sin out of our strength, not our weakness. We sin because we close ourselves off to the love that many people hold out for us. We fear what people might come to know about us. Fear is not faith. Fear is our sin of infidelity to Christ. This contorted, deeply entwined chaos binds us, defines us, and owns us. We are out of our minds. Sadly, we think we are alone.

The story of the Exodus tells us that we are to pass through our fears like the Egyptians did. When they were at the road's end, they began to despair. Just as they were about to give up, Moses (just like Jesus in the Gospel) stretched out his hands and showed the way to salvation. The Israelites were able to be saved from destruction by passing safely through the dry land of the sea. Once the people were led to safely, Moses once again stretched out his hand to cover the land with sea water to vanquish the threat of harm.

It is not easy to pass through the all-consuming waters of our fears. We fear being open to God. We hold onto the illusion that we have control, and we fear giving God control. We figure, if we hold onto our fear, we at least have control of it - control of something. We may not want to relive the pain from stinging memories that may have become our friend. As we get close to these memories, we recoil from the touch. We have been too hurt to want to befriend them. Our sense of preservation tells us they will only reveal to us what we have done wrong and how we deserve the bad stuff that happened to us. But there is a different way.

Jesus is stretching out his hands trying to show us a path to liberation. We have to pass through the devouring waters of our fears with him. The mystery of Christ's life is always happening. His presence transcends time. He can part the waters to lead us to safety. He can bring us through our bad memories to heal us. What is not transformed within us is transmitted. With him, he can reveal a different view to our memories that gives us a freeing insight. In him, he can forgive the deeds we have committed and give us courage in our imagination to stand up to those who have harmed us and sinned against our boundaries. Our imagination brings meaning to our experiences as it unites our mind and heart. Through him, we can become the person we truly have always wanted to be.

We have to respond to him when he stretches out his hand with a gentle invitation or a surprising nudge or a lingering whisper. We have to stretch our hand back to him so he can grasp onto it and bring us through the waters of shame, dread, and despair. We have a choice, but Christ stands in front of us beckoning us to follow. Even if we don't have the strength to walk through the sea, we still have a choice. If we remain where we are standing, we can see our fate will be like the charioteers and Egyptian soldiers. We remain free enough to choose wherever Jesus is leading us. Do you want to go? Do you really want to go?

His pleading eyes convey what he wants for us. He has to lead us there. He has to do it for us. We cannot liberate ourselves. We need a savior to liberate us from our contorted muck. We know that because our chaos remains unchanged through our efforts to deal with them. We cannot do it. Only his love, his personal love for us, only a deeper affection can conquer our disordered affections and make them aright once again. Only the deeply caring reach of Jesus will lead us to our wholeness - to our real true selves. Our free choice is this: we can hold our hand back to Jesus so he can grasp it and carry to us this freedom. Take his hand, please. Take his hand. Sure, this unknown path has its own fear and uncertainty, but take his outstretched hand. Let his hand grasp yours.

Photo: Shhh! Speak to God in the Silence

Prayer: Claude de la Columbiere, S.J.

One of the greatest gifts that the Holy Spirit can bestow on us is peace in time of struggle, calm in the midst of trouble, so that in time of desolation we are armed with a strong courage.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Prayer: Origen

The human heart is no small thing for it can embrace so much.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The July Moon

Prayer: Isidor the Farmer of Seville

Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin... Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Const.: GC 34, Decree 4: “Our Mission and Culture”, par. 27.4

We must remember that we do not directly “evangelize culture,” we evangelize people in their culture. Whether we are working in our own culture or in another, as servants of the Gospel we must not impose our own cultural structures, but witness to the creativity of the Spirit which is also at work in others. Ultimately, the people of a culture are the ones who root for the church and the Gospel in their lives.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prayer: Rule of Benedict

Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ should come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photo: Basilica of Ignatius Loyola, Azpeitzia

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 17, 2011
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43

Matthew continues to describe the kingdom of heaven by using parables - this time using three images from rural life: weeds among the wheat, the growth of the mustard seed, and the leaven used in bread-baking. The wisdom of faithful believers is to mirror God's justice. In other words, the just one is wise. This comes out strongly in the parable of the weeds and wheat where the two plant types will grow side-by-side and cannot be easily separated. Patience and tolerance is needed until the final sorting out that comes from God in the end days. The kingdom is a mixed body of saints and sinners on earth. We cannot judge one another; we merely have to live as fully as we can and let others do the same.
The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven points to the almost invisible nature of the kingdom. It has existed since the beginning of time and has been hidden by sight, but it is sudden and surprising that it will blossom in its full grandeur. It becomes so large that even many birds will come and dwell in its branches. It shows forth its universal hospitality. All are welcome. Likewise with the yeast, a movement that is small and insignificant is able to have a monumental effect on the whole of society. God's plan has been in the works since creation and it is unfolding in rapid fashion before the eyes of many with the advent of the ministry of Jesus. Leaven is a symbol of God's power. Not only that, it is possible to see God present and active in everyday events if one is able to contemplate them with wonder and awe.

Patience is necessary in this life. When we admit we are not the center of the world, we take the burden of judging others off of us. We are better off when we take care of our small role in life and let the bigger issues get worked out by others. We will feel free from the responsibility that is not rightly ours. Control is an illusion. We never really have it and yet we fight to hold onto what little we have. In this parable's case, let us live in freedom and do our best to be morally responsible for our own lives and those within our direct charge.
While Jesus reveals the nature of God and God's kingdom in parables, the reading from Wisdom plainly gives us great characteristics of God. God's power is best expressed in unusual ways, like when mercy is granted in place of punishment, when the perfection of power is disbelieved, with leniency instead of force, and when reconciliation and hope are offered in times of despair. No other god can care for us in the same way.

We assume too much in our faith without great discernment. We might want to test our assumptions and images more than we do. Jesus challenged the people of his time to consider what the kingdom of heaven is like. His parables shed light on the characteristics of God's heart and mind, but they left a lot of room for the imagination to fill in the blanks. It is consoling to know that we can grow like the kingdom of heaven when we realize God's active presence in us and all things.
The possibilities for our freedom is great if we can honestly look upon ourselves humbly before God and see the awesomeness of God's work. We are not in charge and bringing the kingdom forward will occur because it is God's choice. Our part is to continue to act with God's sense of mercy and to be kind to others. Our small actions will advance God's magnifying work. It is wonderful to behold the ways our goodness balloons because of God's power. Let's be content to bring God's goodness to our small corner of the world. The hidden plan of salvation is clearly visible to those who behold God.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Exodus, the Pharaoh changed his mind and sent chariots after the fleeing unarmed Israelites. Moses petitioned God to provide a safe passage for them to freedom when they ran into the Red Sea; the sea split in two and the people passed through it on dry land. The advancing Egyptians were swallowed up by the flowing sea - losing every soldier and chariot. The people rejoiced because the Lord showed them favor. They then set out for the desert of Sin where they became hungry. Through Moses, the Lord provided bread from heaven each night to satisfy their aching stomachs. In the third month since their liberation, the Lord appeared to Moses in a dense cloud and set fire in the mountains. As Moses went up the mountain, the Lord delivered a set of commandments that would bring people to freedom. The people assented to the Lord's commandments joyfully and set a sacrifice as a sign of their acceptance of the covenant.

Gospel: Scribes and Pharisees want to see a sign from Jesus and he scolds them for being an unfaithful generation. They cannot see what is before their eyes. The crowds tell Jesus his mother and brothers want to speak with him about what he is doing; he replies that the one who is doing the will of God is his mother and brother and sister. Jesus begins to tell parables about the kingdom of heaven. He begins by telling the one about the sower who sows seeds on various soil types. He explains that parables are meant for those who can comprehend the larger meaning of the story. This fulfills Isaiah's prophecy about seeing and hearing. Jesus explains the meaning of the parable telling them that their acceptance (soil) of the word (seed) of God will lead for greater understanding of the kingdom of heaven.
Saints of the Week

Monday: Camillus de Lellis (1550-1614), began his youthful life as a soldier where he squandered away his father's inheritance through gambling. He was cared for by Capuchins, but was unable to join them because of a leg ailment. He cared for the sick in hospitals that were deplorable. He founded an order that would care for the sick and dying and for soldiers injured in combat.

Wednesday: Apollinaris, bishop and martyr (1st century) was chosen directly by Peter to take care of souls in Ravenna. He lived through the two emperors whose administrations exiled and tortured him, though he was faithful to his evangelizing work to his death.
Thursday: Lawrence of Brindisi, priest and doctor (1559-1619) was a Capuchin Franciscan who was proficient in many languages and well-versed in the Bible. He was selected by the pope to work for the conversion of the Jews and to fight the spread of Protestantism. He held many positions in the top administration of the Franciscans.

Friday: Mary Magdalene, apostle (1st century), became the "apostle to the apostles" as the first witness of the resurrection. Scriptures point to her great love of Jesus and she stood by him at the cross and brought spices to anoint his body after death. We know little about Mary though tradition conflates her with other biblical woman. Luke portrays her as a woman exorcised of seven demons.
This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jul 17, 1581. Edmund Campion was arrested in England.
·         Jul 18, 1973. The death of Fr. Eugene P Murphy. Under his direction the Sacred Heart Hour, which was introduced by Saint Louis University in 1939 on its radio station [WEW], became a nationwide favorite.
·         Jul 19, 1767. At Naples, Prime Minister Tannic, deprived the Jesuits of the spiritual care of the prisoners, a ministry that they had nobly discharged for 158 years.
·         Jul 20, 1944. An abortive plot against Adolf Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and his allies resulted in the arrest of Fr. Alfred Delp.
·         Jul 21, 1773. In the Quirinal Palace, Rome, the Brief for the suppression of the Society was signed by Clement XIV.
·         Jul 22, 1679. The martyrdom at Cardiff, Wales, of St Phillip Evans.
·         Jul 23, 1553. At Palermo, the parish priests expressed to Fr. Paul Achilles, rector of the college, indignation that more than 400 persons had received Holy Communion in the Society's church, rather than in their parish churches.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prayer: A selection from Psalm 91

You have the Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold. No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent. For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Photo: The Smiling Christ: At Xavier's Castle

Prayer: John Paul II

It is not possible to live and grow in the faith without the support of a group, of a Christian community. It is here that you will learn together to build a better world.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Retreat Homily for July 10, 2011 (First day of repose)

Some of you may have noticed that I have been involved in a small landscaping project here at the retreat house. I would be very easy for me to talk about planting seeds and helping the young shoots to get a good start on life. I could easily relate the Gospel and the first reading to your retreat. In fact, it is more than fitting. Many insidious vines threaten to kill the new life that has begun. I want the neophytes to have a flourishing life and to blossom into all they are to be. I want what lies underneath a prickly thicket to have a good shot at life. New life needs a chance to start out well. I think you have a good grasp of the Gospel parable: that our active reception of the words of Jesus is the good soil that helps his seeds take root; that the seeds are the words announcing the kingdom of heaven, and that we are open to growth.

However, while the word has been taking root in our lives, it only comes about with great groaning and pain. We've experienced tremendous discomfort this week and we might not even have words to explain the reasons for it yet. We just know that we have a great yearning to live rightly with God, to let our true selves emerge and flourish, to let the grand chaos that is within us be tamed. Sometimes we feel like the Gerasene demoniac who is ravaged by the tumult and turmoil of his invisible chains that bind us so insidiously that we don't even know they are there. Their origins dumbfound us. Other times, we can pinpoint a specific incident in our lives, but we can't see these moments with new insights that will break the cycles that we are doomed to repeat. We know we need a liberator because though we've tried hard throughout life, we cannot rid ourselves of that which debilitates us and paralyzes us. We groan and moan and cry out and grunt. This is good.

Paul, in Romans, tells us that all creation experiences futility as it yearns to be free from slavery to corruption. We groan to be rid of something at the same time we yearn for something. Though our sighing may be from our desperation, are we able to be comfortable with our discomfort? If we know that this pain is for some good for us, perhaps we are willing to endure it and maybe embrace it. If we believe Paul, Christ is working with us and for us and side-by-side with us, to liberate us for the glorious freedom he has in store for the children of God and all of creation. Knowing that Christ is laboring for us can help us put our anxieties in perspective. He can give us some comfort. If we are tense and all bollixed up, we may not be able to hear his gentle, whispering invitations. If we are focused on our woes and turned it towards ourselves, we may not be able to turn towards him and gaze into his eyes and see his facial expressions and notice his body language. If we are more relaxed with him, we'll not be deaf to his call and we'll be able to glimpse the expectant kingdom into which he invites us.

Relax today. Let your moaning and groaning continue. It is good growth. A seed that is planted in the soil will strain and stretch until it breaks through its hard casing to sprout forth its tiny shoot that emerges into a new and exciting life. So it is with you. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle. Be patient with Christ. Trust that new life is forming within you and that it brings future promise. We cannot do everything and that may give us some freedom and relief. It allows us to do some small thing, and to do it well. We have to trust that we will always be incomplete, always straining, in suspense, always moving forward, onwards and upwards. We can take but a step along the way, nice and slowly, which may give the Lord a chance to enter into our muck and do the rest.

We may want to get to our goal right away - without any delay. After all, shouldn't we be there yet? It has been a whole 10 days! "What am I doing wrong?," I ask myself. We are impatient as we move towards something unknown, but doesn't all progress take a long time? We pass through stages of wavering instability and we have to let our new insights permeate into our unconsciousness and shape themselves with the charity and nourishment of Christ.

Our cries rise from out of the depths. No head logic, no reasoning will ever satisfy these yearnings. We only have to speak of our feelings and desires to the one who is calling us into something new. Christ will hold us in our pain. He will hold our pain so we can step forward - maybe stumble forward - into his new creation. Give the Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you. If you cannot utter any words, let your groaning speak for you. Raise up your open palms to the Lord and let him take you by the hand into the glorious new freedom that awaits you. It is a place of no resignation, no despair, no darkness. We wish we could run there. Let's go forth boldly and with great courage. Let's go slowly so we can enjoy not only the destination, but the journey too.

Spirituality: The Lightness of Being

Thomas came to this conclusion: making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for a shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman.)

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Photo: Ignatius of Loyola

Prayer: Theophan the Recluse

Be encouraged. Take up prayer more readily and continue without interruptions - and you will soon achieve your desired goal. Soon a reverent attention to the one God will be established, and with it, inner peace.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spirituality: Stripes

When a zebra foal is born, so the ranger tells me, it first staggers to its feet and runs in circles round its mother's legs. Nature's way, no doubt, of getting those spindly newborn limbs strong enough, quickly enough, to flee from predators.

But then, exhausted, the newborn foal collapses in a weary heap and lies back, simply gazing, for hours it seems, at its mother. How very cute, I think. But this isn't cuteness; it's something else altogether. This is the foal memorizing its mother's stripe pattern.

Imagine. Every single zebra on this planet has a unique stripe pattern. Memorizing its mother’s pattern is the foal’s first act of bonding, its first defense against getting lost in the herd.

I believe that God paints a unique pattern of presence in each human life. We discover this pattern as we reflect on what is actually happening in our everyday experience.” It is there we will notice God's personal relationship with us, unfolding  minute by minute.

This reflection becomes an attitude of mindfulness, an ongoing act of bonding; and it holds us in an unbreakable connection with the source of our being through every moment of our living.

- Margaret Silf Compass Points

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Photo: Philip Berrigan

Philip Berrigan of Jonah House
October 5, 1923 - December 6, 2002

This icon shows a ghastly nuclear fire partially blocked by the sufferings and numerous imprisonments of Berrigan.

Prayer: Teresa of Avila

Prayer is not just spending time with God. It is partly that – but if it ends there, it is fruitless. No, prayer is dynamic. Authentic prayer changes us – unmasks us – strips us – indicates where growth is needed. Authentic prayer never leads to complacency, but needles us – makes us uneasy at times. It leads us to true self-knowledge, to true humility.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spirituality: The Eucharist

There is an entire spirituality, and Christology, in the four eucharistic words: receive, give thanks, break, share.

My belief in the eucharist is simple: without touch, God is a monologue, an idea, a philosophy; he must touch and be touched, the tongue on the flesh, and that touch is the result of monologues, the idea, the philosophies which led to faith, bu in the instant of touch there is no place for thinking, for talking, the silent touch affirms all that, and goes deeper.

Andre Dubus, Broken Vessels

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 10, 2011
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23

I have been immersed in an extensive landscaping project in our front and back lawns that helps me relate to this Gospel theme. I began the project as a response to the insidious vines that were choking tall pine and birch trees. I felt sad that these stately trees were being deprived of a flourishing life, but it seemed like a futile task to rid them of those thorny vines that protected themselves well. I wanted the good young growth that lay underneath the prickly thicket to have a good shot at life. New life needs a chance to start out well.

Isaiah tells us the rain and snow comes from heaven, like the word of God, to make the land fertile and fruitful. Jesus gives us a parable to illustrate how the word of God can take root even if it falls on diverse soils of receptivity. The Gospel describes four types of soil illustrating that the deep, unencumbered earth will be the best because the plant can bear fruit abundantly. The seed is the divine revelation that the kingdom of heaven is being planted on earth. The soil represent the different human receptions. Some of the attempts to spread the word and implant it in the soil will, without doubt, fail while the sower's work ultimately succeeds for the most part. Success will be measured by the fruit bearing of the recipients. This story is to give hope and encouragement to the hearers of the parable as the audience must participate if the story is to have an effect.

This is the third major discourse in Matthew's gospel where seven parables of the mysterious kingdom of heaven are told. In this setting, Jesus is in a public arena with the crowds and his disciples while later parables show Jesus in a more intimate discussion. These parables form the center of the Gospel structurally and in meaning. Teachings about the kingdom are the high point for Matthew. If hearers make themselves open in faith and hope to the revelation of God's plan of salvation, they can make rapid progress in understanding it. Matthew quotes Isaiah so he can introduce the intent of Jesus to heal and save the people so they may fully participate in the kingdom on earth and in heaven.

Jesus notes the failure to receive the word of the kingdom is not a failure in hearing, but one of understanding. Failure is both from "tribulation and persecution" and from "delight in riches." The point is that only the one who loves God with heart, soul (even to martyrdom), and strength (wealth) truly receives the words of Jesus. For Jesus, everything is centered on the pure love of God as a way to receive and understand the word of the kingdom.

As audience participation is key to understanding the parable, we have to decide how we are to respond to the invitation of the kingdom. We first have to learn what it is. It will be right for us to pay attention to the upcoming parables over the next few weeks to wrestle with our understanding of the kingdom. We are to integrate the hard sayings it asks of us. Much of life can be like those prickly vines that direct our attention away from God's plan of salvation for us. We will be known by our fruit. We cannot do much with some of our life's circumstances, but we can still choose to love God above all things. It is not easy as we have a lot of distractions and attachments to sort out, but God can help make the soil of our souls rich and deep where we can delight in our great generation of healthy, juicy fruit. Let's give that new life in God a chance to grow. Only goodness follows.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Exodus, Egypt receives a new king who knows nothing of the protections offered to Joseph and his kin. As the Hebrews are becoming more numerous, Pharaoh enslaves the people and forces them into hard labor while commanding all newborn boys to be killed. A Levite bears a son and hides him in the reeds for three months. Pharaoh's daughter sees the child and is moved with pity on him and takes him into her home to raise him as a son. As a grown man, Moses is tending his flocks when God calls out to him from a burning bush to reveal that "I am the living God." God gives Moses a mission to liberate his people from the hands of the Egyptians who are dealing with them unjustly. Pharaoh is obstinate at Moses' words. The Lord set plagues on the land - even striking down the firstborn of land - every man and beast. Eventually, Pharaoh relents and the Israelites leave Egypt after their exile of 430 years.

Gospel: Jesus tells his friends that their decision to follow him will bring division among their families before it will bring peace. Following Jesus means accepting the cross and the humiliation that comes with it. Jesus reproaches the towns where most of his mighty deeds were done. Their great sin is like that of Sodom and Gomorrah that fail to offer hospitality to Jesus. Jesus proves he is a prophet in the line of Lady Wisdom who offers rest and comfort to those who turn to him. He teaches them the essential qualities of gentleness and humility. He then declares that he is the Lord of the Sabbath when he and his hungry disciples pick grain to satisfy their hunger. He tells them God desires mercy not sacrifice. The Pharisees take counsel against Jesus and decide to put him to death. Jesus withdraws to a place of safety and tells his friends that scripture is being fulfilled - God's chosen servant will be beaten and put to death for our freedom.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Benedict, Abbot (480-547), was educated in Rome, but left after a few years to take on a life of solitude. He became a monk at Subiaco and lived alone, but his lifestyle developed followers so he built 12 monasteries for them. He left to found a monastery at Monte Cassino where he wrote his Rule that became a standard for Western monasticism. He adopted the practices of the austere Desert Fathers for community life and emphasized moderation, humility, obedience, prayer, and manual labor.

Wednesday: Henry, king (972-1024) was a descendent of Charlemagne who became king of Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor. His wife had no offspring. He merged the church's affairs with the secular government and built the cathedral in the newly erected diocese of Bamberg. He was a just ruler who paid close attention to his prayer.

Thursday: Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk chief. As a child, she contracted smallpox and was blinded and severely disfigured by it. She was baptized on Easter Sunday 1767 by Jesuit missionaries and was named after Catherine of Siena. She kept a strong devotion to the Eucharist and cared for the sick. She is named "the Lily of the Mohawks."

Friday: Bonaventure, bishop and Doctor (1221-1273), was given his name by Francis of Assisi to mean "Good Fortune" after he was cured of serious childhood illnesses. He joined the Franciscans at age 20 and studied at the University of Paris. Aquinas became his good friend. Bonaventure was appointed minister general of the Franciscans and was made a cardinal. He participated in the ecumenical council at Lyons to reunite the Greek and Latin rites. Aquinas died on the way to the council.

Saturday: Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patronal feast of the Carmelites. The day commemorates the day Simon Stock was given a brown scapular by Mary in 1251. In the 12th century, Western hermits settled on Mount Carmel overlooking the plain of Galilee just as Elijah did. These hermits built a chapel to Mary in the 13th century and began a life of solitary prayer

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jul 10 , 1881. Fr. Frederick Garesche' wrote from Sequin, Texas, to his Superior: "The cowboys who had not deigned at first to lift their hat to the priest or missionary; who had come to the mission as to a camp meeting, for the fun of the thing, gave in, and their smiles and awkward salutes showed that they had hearts under their rude exterior."
• Jul 11, 1809. After Pius VII had been dragged into exile by General Radet, Fr. Alphonsus Muzzarrelli SJ, his confessor, was arrested in Rome and imprisoned at Civita Vecchia.
• Jul 12, 1594. In the French Parliament Antoine Arnauld, the Jansenist, made a violent attack on the Society, charging it with rebellious feelings toward King Henry IV and with advocating the doctrine of regicide.
• Jul 13, 1556. Ignatius, gravely ill, handed over the daily governance of the Society to Juan de Polanco and Cristobal de Madrid.
• Jul 14, 1523. Ignatius departs from Venice on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
• Jul 15, 1570. At Avila, St Teresa had a vision of Blessed Ignatius de Azevedo and his companions ascending to heaven. This occurred at the very time of their martyrdom.
• Jul 16, 1766. The death of Giusuppe Castiglione, painter and missionary to China. They paid him a tribute and gave him a state funeral in Peking (Beijing).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Prayer: Anonymous

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Spirituality: From an account of the martyrdom of Paul Miki, S.J.

The crosses were set in place. Father Pasio and Father Rodriguez took turns encouraging the victims. Their steadfast behavior was wonderful to see. The Father Bursar stood motionless, his eyes turned heavenward. Brother Martin gave thanks to God’s goodness by singing psalms. Again and again he repeated: “Into your hands, Lord, I entrust my life.” Brother Francis Branco also thanked God in a loud voice. Brother Gonsalvo in a very loud voice kept saying the Our Father and Hail Mary.

Our brother, Paul Miki, saw himself standing now in the noblest pulpit he had ever filled. To his “congregation” he began my proclaiming himself a Japanese and a Jesuit. He was dying for the Gospel he preached. He gave thanks to God for this wonderful blessing and he ended his “sermon” with these words: “As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.”

Then he looked at his comrades and began to encourage them in their final struggle. Joy glowed in all their faces, and in Louis’ most of all. When a Christian in the crowd cried out to him that he would soon be in heaven, his hands, his whole body strained upward with such joy that every eye was fixed on him.

Then, according to Japanese custom, the four executioners began to unsheathe their spears. At this dreadful sight, all the Christians cried out, “Jesus, Mary!” And the storm of anguished weeping then rose to batter the very skies. The executioners killed them one by one. One thrust of the spear, then a second blow. It was over in a very short time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Prayer: Hildegard of Bingen

Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings. Now, think. What delight God gives to humankind with all these things. All nature is at the disposal of humankind. We are to work with it. For without it, we cannot survive.